I realize that I am in the minority, but I have absolutely zero interest in watching football. The reasons for this are legion, but primarily, I don’t like watching football simply because I’d rather be doing something different instead. And when everyone else is glued to their screens, it means they are not on the streets, or in stores, or at parks. So the city is empty and quiet and I feel like I have the whole place all to myself.
Last year, when the Denver Broncos (my hometown team) and the Seattle Seahawks (my current city team) faced off in the Super Bowl, I was gleefully taking my time walking around a nearby lake enjoying the quiet and stillness and silence. Last week, during the final playoff game, I was meandering through Home Depot picking paint colors for a new project and tickled that I was the only one in line at the paint counter. I haven’t yet planned my adventures for this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, but am excited to begin imagining how I am going to spend my time alone.
Super Bowl Sunday is just one of very few days out of the year when I don’t feel guilty for doing exactly what I want. My husband and kids like watching football and end up seeing them on the big screen at a church party, or over at a friend’s house. And since they are so excited about watching the game and being fed by the potluck tasties, I don’t feel like my presence is required, needed or even missed!
I recognize that as I write this, I am both acknowledging and somewhat accepting of the reality that I don’t carve out very much time for myself; that I have to pamper myself only when everyone else is otherwise being cared for. I look forward to Super Bowl Sunday every year as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Am I equating my work as a mother, a wife, and a financial provider as the same as being in jail? Maybe. Yes, definitely. All the time? No. But women are socially and culturally constructed to be care takers of everyone but themselves. We are nurses and therapists, cheerleaders and teachers, maids and cooks, seamstresses and bankers, decorators and curators, artists and landscapers, gardeners and excavators. As mothers, as wives, as workers and as friends, we spend a lot of our time, our energy, and our finances to provide for the needs of others. When do we invest those kinds of resources in ourselves?
When my daughter’s tennis shoes showed signs of wear and tear, I went to the store that day to find her a new pair. And yet, I have chronically been walking around in flats that have an outright hole in the bottom of the sole. This dichotomy in treatment seems unnecessary. Why did I not get myself a new pair of shoes at the same time? Did I not have enough money? No. Was it an extra trip just for myself? No. Did I go to a store that only sold girl’s shoes? No – because my 10-year old and I now wear the same size. So, why did I not feel the urgency for to care for myself, but I did for my daughter?
I understand that being mama bears and lionesses means we care for our cubs and defend and protect them at all costs. But how can a weak, depleted, fatigued and sick mama take care of anyone? So, really, is it just that we aren’t that weak or that depleted or that fatigued or that sick? How bad do we have to get before we begin taking care of ourselves?
I spent the first week of this year detoxing off of caffeine and sugar. Maybe sometime I will write about the exquisite pain I was in for five days straight as a result of that decision. But in brief,
I realized that addiction to caffeine and sugar was just a way to keep going – to push through the weakness, the depletion, the fatigue and sickness. And when I arrested my use of those things, I crashed and burned and realized how poorly I had been caring for my body, soul and spirit.
I expect myself and have expectations thrust upon me to be a superwoman and the only fuel I have to keep going is several cups of coffee and some gum drops? That seems absolutely insane. But I have been a mother for almost 11 years and a wife for 15 and a student and a professional and on and on, and have known no other way how to play those roles and take care of myself at the same time.
So, I start by not watching football. I start with one day a year that I look forward to, and cherish and hold sacred as a day where I can begin taking care of my needs, replenishing what has been lost, honoring my hard work and taking time to pause and ask myself, “What is it that you need or want to do with yourself by yourself this Super Bowl Sunday?” I can’t wait to hear what my long lost long-suffering self has to say.